Salesforce.com Updates to Summer CRM

Tuesday Jul 18th 2006 by Andy Patrizio
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The 20th version of the popular on-demand software offers SAP integration and partner access among the changes.

Salesforce.com has announced the availability of Summer '06, the 20th release of its on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) software. The new release features additional connectivity options to third-party products and to non-Salesforce.com subscribers.

One of the major additions is the Salesforce Connector for SAP R/3, providing integration between Salesforce.com's applications and the widely-used ERPsoftware.

The new connector provides bi-directional synchronizing of account information between Salesforce and SAP R/3 and significantly reduces the time and effort to integrate the two systems. The adapter will also allow for access to front- and back-office data in Salesforce applications and is built on the SAP Java Connector (JCo).

The Salesforce Connector for SAP R/3 will be available as a free option for Unlimited Edition customers and for Enterprise Edition customers, who pay a $12,000 annual fee.

The second big addition to Salesforce.com Summer '06 release is Partnerforce. The Salesforces Partner Edition is designed to let customers extend their CRM applications to their own customers via customizable portals. It will be available to Enterprise Edition and Unlimited Edition subscribers for $1,500 per partner, per year, and it includes subscriptions for five partner employees.

For the mobile workforce, Summer '06 has increased its mobile support by offering access to product and price books, giving sales reps the ability to view, add, edit and delete individual items they are selling. Remote sales staff will also be able to receive new leads on their mobile device rather than having to come into the office.

If there is a theme to this release, it's integration. "Integration was one of the biggest knocks against on-demand a few years ago," said Kendall Collins, vice president of marketing for Salesforce.com. "We are evolving from basic contact management to complex CRM. On-demand CRM is becoming tightly integrated with Web services companies that want to deploy from the Internet, so the ability to use Web platforms is critical."

Salesforce.com may live and breathe CRM, but it's also benefiting from social network-like activities. It has 43,000 custom objects and apps built by its customers, which can be used by Salesforce subscribers to build their own applications.

AppExchange, its service that allows customers to build their own applications and share them with the community, has 280 applications available. It had 70 when it launched in October 2005.

Chad Rycenga, director of IT for cable television provider Charter Communications, said many of the updates to Summer '06 are behind the scenes, but "go a long way toward helping us firm up integration points" in its systems.

"They took a real concerted effort at trying to make integration a lot easier," he added. "That's a big point of how we're trying to leverage this tool."

Adapted from Internetnews.com.

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